The Nissan Note's engine range starts with a naturally aspirated 79bhp 1.2-litre three-pot petrol. Next up is the 97bhp 1.2-litre DIG-S supercharged petrol version; its supercharger is disengaged via a clutch when not needed.
Nissan's supercharged engine outputs an impressively low 99g/km CO2, but that worsens to 119g/km if the standard five-speed manual is replaced by the optional CVT automatic gearbox
The economy champion is the Renault-sourced 1.5-litre dCi turbodiesel, offering 89bhp, 95g/km and, again, a five-speed gearbox.
If you’re after strong straight-line performance, a 79bhp 1.2-litre triple is unlikely to blip particularly brightly on your radar. So although a headline figure of 12.6sec for the 0-60mph sprint doesn’t look sprightly, bear in mind that this is also a claimed 60.1mpg car that emits just 109g/km of CO2 on the combined cycle.
From that perspective, the Note is a pretty competitive performer. The last time we figured a 1.2-litre supermini, it was a Peugeot 208 that, although 15kg lighter and 2bhp more powerful than the Note, wanted 14.2sec across the same benchmark.
The Peugeot did counter, though, with stronger in-gear performance at the lower end of the rev scale; across 30-50mph in third (7.6sec) and 50-70mph in fourth (12.2sec), the 208 is more responsive than the Note (8.4sec and 12.8sec respectively). The Note’s three-cylinder engine is one that likes a few revs; hang on to it long enough and it’ll redline at 6800rpm, although we can’t imagine many buyers taking it there. Certainly, you wouldn’t do it by accident.
The supercharged engine doesn't quite live up to its billing. It feels a bit overwhelmed by the Note's bulk, although the deep three-cylinder sound is appealing. You'll probably enjoy the impressively torquey diesel more; it offers up a reasonably modest 89bhp and 147lb ft, meaning acceptable performance.
What power it does produce is delivered smoothly, but it is a grumbly unit under acceleration. Better is its high-speed refinement, which is broken only by a modicum of road noise. Our test route saw it return an excellent 62mpg, which was achieved over a mix of roads.
Although the Nissan Note is quite happy to be threaded with a little enthusiasm around town, the gearbox takes a bit of stirring on the open road. Thinking about pulling out on the motorway with some traffic closing behind from a distance? You’ll probably be wanting fourth gear. The same goes for increasing speed on an incline.